Edmodo & Challenge Based Learning

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June 9th, 2011
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Student PLNs with Liz!

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Although many of you are done with your school year and ready to relax and enjoy your well-deserved vacation, I know that summer break doesn’t stop you from planning or thinking about the great ideas you will implement next school year.  For many of us, summer is not only a time to take a break, but also a time to be able to reflect, learn new things, and plan meaningful learning opportunities that we can use with our students.  This week, I’d like to share one of the most valuable learning experiences that my students had this year.  I hope that it will invoke some ideas that you can ponder over this summer break and perhaps implement with your students in the Fall.

A couple of weeks ago Bianca wrote about how Edmodo and PBL’s go together.  This week I’d like to add on to her wonderful thoughts and express how Edmodo has been a key to the success of implementing Challenge Based Learning (CBL) with my students this year.  For those of you who may not be familiar with CBL, it is a framework that provides students an opportunity to use critical thinking skills to solve real-world problems.  It is similar to Problem or Project Based Learning, however, it really focuses the learning on the process rather than the product and uses a multidisciplinary approach to foster collaboration, integrate technology, and create a connection with the community.

In the CBL framework, students are first posed with a challenge that needs to be solved.  It is a completely student driven process where they begin by creating guiding questions, activities, and resources that will lead them to a meaningful and measurable solution.  All of their research and solution implementation is measured, documented, and analyzed.  The process naturally integrates various content area standards.  I highly encourage you to learn more about CBL by visiting the CBL website.  You can also learn more from the webinar found at the bottom of this page that explains CBL in detail.

This year we challenged our students to “E Malama ‘Aina,” which in Hawaiian means to “Take Care of the Land.”  You can check out our team’s challenge, proposal video, and sample student solution videos.  We planned this as an interdisciplinary challenge that incorporated English, science, math, social studies, and health standards.  Students worked in groups to identify, research, and solve a real problem related to sustainability in their school, home, or community.  Throughout the process, students worked with their families and teachers and some groups collaborated with government officials and other community members to complete their research and implement their solution.  This process took about 4 months for the students to complete.  Face-to-face meeting time was limited so most of their time was spent meeting virtually with their groups and project advisors.

Our integration of Edmodo into the CBL process was instrumental in helping our students to be successful.  We were able to use the small group feature to provide each group a place to communicate and share documents throughout the process.  It was especially helpful since they could share all types of file formats (video, audio, spreadsheets, forms, and pictures).  All of these were important parts in the process and made collaboration run smoothly.  In addition, each project advisor depended on Edmodo for the groups to communicate their questions and submit documentation of their process.  It also helped us to track individual and group progress and offer help to students when needed.  Although we didn’t necessarily meet face-to-face with our groups on a weekly basis, we were able to offer feedback and check on how they were doing through Edmodo.

Overall, students reported that they were thankful for having Edmodo to help them through their challenge and credited this tool as essential to the CBL process.  At the end of the CBL experience, students also used Edmodo to share their final solution videos and both students and teachers were able to comment on their success.

I’d love to get your feedback on what you think about CBL and how Edmodo or other web 2.0 tools have helped your students solve similar challenges.

Until next time…Aloha!

 


11 Responses to “Edmodo & Challenge Based Learning”

  1. Kuuhaku07 says:

    Great job Liz! We’ll need to discuss and get to see how this went for you this year. Have a great summer!

  2. Jlakey says:

    Wow Liz!  What a fantastic project.  I would love to get some more information from you about how you incorporated the core disciplines into the project.  Great job.  @jalakey:twitter

  3. Adam Brice says:

    G’day Liz! Fancy seeing you here!

    Fantastic to hear about the results of your project. Sensational!

    My school, Ringwood North Primary in Victoria, Australia, also participated alongside Liz’s school in the ‘Challenge Based Learning’ project. Training was held in January and we returned to Australia to kick off our challenge at the commencement of a new school year.

    Our challenge was focused on the big idea of ‘Resilience’, and our students ultimately went about trying to provide support and encouragement for communities affected by a natural disaster. A fair challenge for 138 10-12 year olds!

    Trying to get your head around a new framework, as well as training our teachers and getting organized were big challenges for us. We needed to get the students collaborating more often than just at school times for this to work. We predicted we would not have time to train up students on how to operate and manage a wiki, CMS or some other network solution. Add to the mix we are trialling the use of iPads for each of our Y=ear 5/6 students involved in the project.

    Enter Edmodo..

    While I had looked at Edmodo before, having an authentic reason to use it brought me to revisit it. It was no doubt one of the keys to the success of our project.

    Our students immediately figured out the intuitive nature of the setup and were straight into it. They have used Edmodo to update progress to teachers and one another, share resources and keep track of their progress. And with the latest release of the Edmodo app, access is only a touch away on the iPad.

    So a big thanks to Edmodo for creating such an amazing tool specifically for schools. We continue to use Edmodo in our new CBL challenges, as well as extend it to organizing new groups for homework, subject areas, etc. We are also starting to bring our parents online as a way of improving communication throughout this area. The possibilities are endless.

    I look forward to the future developments of Edmodo, as it sounds as though there are some impressive things ahead. I really look forward to the day when we can upload a picture, document, pdf etc straight from the iPad. This is the only thing we cannot do straight from the device.

    So, thanks Edmodo, great work Liz.

    Maybe we could get a CBL challenge working via Edmodo once school starts back for you?

  4. John Larmer says:

    Great to see engaging projects for students with CBL – but I’d quibble a bit with your distinction between it and PBL. Project Based Learning is a big tent, and the challenges as described here fit under it. Well-designed PBL definitely emphasizes process as much as product, and solving authentic challenges is one of the best ways to frame a PBL experience.

    • Liz Castillo says:

      Hi John.  I would agree with you that CBL could fit under the large umbrella of PBL but not all PBL’s emphasize the process or solve an authentic challenge.  Thanks for engaging!

    • Sbedard says:

      Hi John The biggest difference between CBL and PBL isvup front work. In PBL the teacher really puts the shell of the project together, creating the tasks, organizing the references, web links and etc. But in CBL the process is more student driven, They decides on the direction of the project. They make many of the decisions in order to reach their solution or answer the challenge.

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